Don't Throw Those Shoes Away! Fix 'em With Shoe Goo And Save Money.
Many years ago when I was running track in high school, we used to apply Shoe Goo to our running shoe soles to make them last longer. Shoe Goo is great stuff. I use it for all sorts of repairs, not just on shoes. It ranks up there with duct tape for repair goodness.
I have found a truly great way to make it even better. I have always just followed the label instructions, squeeze it on, spread it smooth and let it harden for a day or two. It works pretty well, but eventually it will crack and break through in the same spot where the shoe's sole cracked. Sometimes it peels right off and doesn't stick to the sole.
A while back I bought a nice pair of basketball shoes. They are still in good shape and very comfortable. But I noticed that they were cracking across the bottoms of the soles, right where they bend the most. I did my usual Shoe Goo treatment and figured that all was well. No joy. The very next day the Shoe Goo had cracked at just the same spot. I tried again. No good.
I didn't want to throw the shoes away. I like them. I had already 'wasted' two Shoe Goo treatments on them. What to do? I thought about it. And figured out how to make it work.
Remember the story of the Israelites in Egypt? (This is not a non-sequitur.) They had to find straw to make their bricks. Why straw? What does straw have to do with bricks? (Or Shoe Goo?) Straw, or any fibrous matter, is used to hold the mud together as a binding agent. Without the straw, the dried adobe blocks are too brittle and fall apart.
Bondo, used to repair holes in rusted auto bodies, works the same way, using fiberglass threads to strengthen the patch. It adds tensile strength. I needed to find something to add to the Shoe Goo to make it stronger.
An old tee-shirt. Cotton is strong. They used to make armor out of cotton fabric laminated together with glue, back in the ancient times. Cotton is tough. Good enough for Alexander the Great, good enough for my basketball shoes!
I took an old tee-shirt and cut out pieces big enough to cover the sole.
I put a thin layer of Shoe Goo on the sole, spread evenly. Make sure the soles are very clean before you spread on the goo. It won't stick well if the soles are at all dirty.
I pressed the cotton fabric firmly onto the Shoe Goo and rubbed it until the Goo had seeped into the cloth. I then left the shoes overnight to cure.
The next day I spread another thin layer of Shoe Goo on top of the fabric and let that dry for a day.
The next day I wore them and have worn them since. No problems. The cloth prevents the Shoe Goo from cracking. Problem solved. One treatment will last a long time, but eventually the repair will also crack. All you have to do then is add another layer on top of your old patch. Another plus is that the very thin layers you use for this won't peel off, unlike the thick layer you need if you just use Goo without the cloth.
Items you need: Shoe Goo, under $6 per tube. Old tee-shirt. Scissors to trim the excess cloth from the edges when it is dry.
One tube of Shoe Goo will treat many pairs of shoes if used to laminate with cloth. You need a thick layer if you just use the Goo, but with the cloth you only need a very thin layer of the Goo.
It works best on smooth-bottomed shoes. I will probably do this to the next pair of shoes I buy when they are brand new, rather than wait until they are already cracked and broken.
Shoes are a big expense in my family, with four people, including two kids in sports. I can easily make my shoes last twice as long and save a few hundred dollars a year.
If these instructions are not clear and you want to know more, leave a comment below and I will reply. I can take some pictures if necessary and post them in the Hub.
*Update: I have found something that works better than tee-shirt cloth. Old blue jeans are made of a much thicker, stronger cotton fabric than tee-shirts. I take an old, blown-out pair of jeans and cut rectangles just slightly larger than the shoe. The lower legs of jeans don't usually wear out even when the rest of the jeans are nearly gone, so that's where I cut the patch from. Then you stretch the patch tightly over the wet Shoe-Goo, rub the cloth firmly down onto the soles and let it dry. Then as above I put a second layer on the outside surface. I use a little flat stick to spread the Goo evenly and work it into the fabric. This lasts a lot longer.
Another advantage of using this method to repair shoes is that the Shoe-Goo gives good traction on ice. I did up an older pair of my daughter's boots last week. She loves it. Before, she was slipping all over the place, but she tells me the traction is much better now. Since she really likes these boots, and they are comfortable and fit well, she is glad to have them last longer, and she says they don't look weird. So far no one has even noticed the unusual bottoms.
Repair Shoe Soles with Shoe Goo Comments here:
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on March 31, 2016:
Sounds good. How stiff is it? And, how well does it stay on?
Doug H. on March 31, 2016:
I found a nearly free way to repair the soles of running shoes. Lowe's has samples of kitchen floor tile. Take 2 of the flexible ones; with the white side up, trace the shoe outline for left and right shoe on each piece of tile sample. Cut off the excess and maybe trim to leave a narrow edge around the tile 'soles' replacements. Mark the pieces and shoe with a dot for alignment and contact cement per instructions. Then.... use shoe goo to finish off the narrow edges after the contact cement has dried a few days.
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on October 17, 2013:
I have tried that, they worked pretty good, at least on the flat-bottomed leather shoes.
Hugh Morrison from London, England on October 17, 2013:
Have you tried those kits you can get on Ebay for shoe repair? They cost about £5/- and have a pair of tough rubber soles and a tube of glue with a little spreading tool. You just stick the new sole over the old cracked one. I've found these to work really well, even with shoes that a cobbler told me could not be repaired.
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on October 26, 2012:
Hi Danis, thanks for trying it and reporting back. Glad it worked. About the traction, I think it is best on smooth surfaces, my daughter particularly mentioned that it worked well on ice, better then the original rubber sole.
I never found any problem with water soaking through, or at least never noticed it. With the tee-shirt material the goo would penetrate the fabric. You are probably right that the jeans material doesn't absorb as well.
danis on October 26, 2012:
Hi, and nice tip!
I would like to give facts only, and not expressing my opinion about your repair. Ones opinion depends on ones expectations and purpose, isn't it?
I bought a pair of water shoes for minimalist running. I knew beforehand that their soft soles are destroyed relatively fast. So, I gave your idea a try, on my new 10$ shoes. I have run on the treated shoes a total distance of about 200 km, in 15 km/h pace on average, fore-foot/mid-foot strike on street mainly. The outer shoe-goo layer went off just on the first run (1 hr session). The jean layer gradually eroded, and, after these 200 km, there are holes revealing the water shoes soles at the point of strike.
This is my experience with your treatment. For sure, it is much more durable, cheap and environmentally friendlier than applying shoe-goo only. Shoe-goo eroded relatively fast (a ~1 mm layer is gone in one run, or tennis session on concrete, for me).
I confirm, also, that your repair resulted in a relatively satisfactory traction (I would give a 3, in a 0-5 scale, let's say).
Lastly, let me add that even if I tried as much as I could to seep the jean in the applied shoe-goo, the jean wasn't plasticized. After the outer shoe-goo layer went off on my first run, the jean was absorbing water every time I got the soles in contact with water.
Hoping I helped...
tmbridgeland (author) from Small Town, Illinois on May 25, 2012:
I hope you come back to comment on how the shoe goo repair turned out! Thanks for stopping by.
Torres on May 25, 2012:
Awesome tip. Exactly the solution that I was hoping to find...have an old pair of sandals I love. I'm trying this out tonight!